I’ve always had a good relationship with my parents, bar the odd door-slamming, key-throwing, screaming match with my mother here and there. They both travelled a lot for work – and still do - and I’m sure that this somewhat regular absence from our daily lives is what made my brother and sisters and I become fairly independent. I went to boarding school, then left the continent and still haven’t returned – my sisters and brother have all travelled extensively – yet despite this globetrotting, this physical separation, we are still so close. This doesn’t manifest itself in the usual ways. Even with Skype, Whatsapp and cheapish phone calls, I rarely talk to my younger siblings, sporadically talk to my older sister and speak maybe twice a month to my parents, maybe. And even then only for 15 minutes max. And yet. Just as I absentmindedly always wind the same thick camel scarf around my neck every day, my family are always woven into the back of my mind. The closeness I feel to them doesn’t manifest itself in I love yous, or regular phone calls. It manifests itself in the stories I tell about my little brother who watched the Lion King every afternoon for a year, in the connection that I feel to my mother after spending Saturday morning at a gym class then cleaning the house just as she would, in the anguish and helplessness that overcomes me when someone talks about panic attacks because I’ve seen how they affect my sister, and in my laughter when I make my friend take a photo of me with a poor unsuspecting lad on the streets of Toronto, just because he ressembles my other sister’s boyfriend, who I’ve never actually met.
I started thinking about this fierce love bond after reading an email from my sister updating us about her visit to our dad in prison. Apart from for his work, his friends, and us, he has never given a flying fuck. And I couldn’t be more proud. I am so happy to hear of the speeches he gives to the other inmates, about the symposiums he holds where those who want to debate the rights and wrongs of the British justice system, the beautiful model aeroplane that another prisoner made him out of matchsticks and right now especially, about the 3 red cards that revoked his phone privileges. My sister didn’t tell us exactly why he had been given these 3 red cards, but we all know it will have been because he can’t keep his mouth shut. And if opening your mouth means voicing injustice, expressing discontent, and inspiring your children, I hope he never shuts it.
So right now, this is how the love I feel for my dad is manifesting itself: in the incomparable pride I have in calling myself his daughter.